Bangalore: ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair on Friday said that the presence of water on lunar surface was detected by India`s own Moon Impact Probe (MIP) on
Chandrayaan-I, a finding confirmed by NASA’s own instrument onboard the craft.
Terming it as a path breaking discovery and a real discovery, the ISRO chief said that the Chandrayaan-I mission was a complete success.
“Chandrayaan has done a wonderful mission. Earlier I said it has completed 95% of mission objectives, today I say it has done 110%,” said a beaming Nair.
Nair proudly added that all over the globe, the finding of water has been acknowledged as a significant discovery. “The main aim of the Chandrayaan-I mission has been achieved.”
Complementing the principal investigators Dr JN Goswami of ISRO and Carle Pieters, Principal Investigator of M3 probe of Nasa for their stupendous success, Nair said that the data collected is enormous and it will take anywhere between six months to three years before all the data is analysed and digested.
Divulging details of the findings of the moon mission, specifically the finding of water on the moon surface, the ISRO chief explained that the water (HHO) and hydroxyl (HO) molecules were found concentrated near the polar regions of the moon.
The Moon Impact Probe
The MIP while descending from Chandrayaan-I to moon,
picked up strong signals of water particles, he said.
“While the moon impact probe landed, it took
nearly 25 minutes. It took some pictures that indicated these
water molecules. Another instrument HYS1 to map minerals also
helped NASA`S M3 in finding water.”
“The water is not in form of sea, lake, or even as a puddle or not even a drop. It is embedded in the surface in the minerals found there,” he said.
Apart from India`s MIP, the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3)
of NASA on board Chandrayaan-I also confirmed the presence of
Nair explained, “However, the quantity of such molecules is much more than what we were expecting. And, yes it can extracted but the quantity would be very less. One tonne of soil will roughly yield ½ litre of water.”
Theory behind moon water
On how it was possible that water molecules be present on the surface of the moon, Nair said, “We are still wondering how water is present on the moon.”
“But as per initial assessment, it seems that it is due to the solar winds that are crashing onto the moon surface continuously.”
He further explained that solar winds gave hydrogen (H) and at certain velocity levels they combine with oxygen (O) present in the minerals present on the moons surface to form water (HHO) or hydroxyl (HO).
Moon station much more real
He however added that the presence of water molecules doesn’t mean the presence of life on the moon.
On the possibility of a establishing a permanent base there, Nair said that after the discovery of water, the hopes for any such future endeavour has become much more real.
Explaining further, he said that poles of the moon are the most promising region for establishing a base as the region is generally cold with some of hills in the region having sunlight, which is the second requirement apart from water needed to sustain life.
The equator region was out of question as the temperatures there are upwards of 200 degrees and hence water is not present.
Going the rapid strides being made in planetary exploration, Nair was confident that either a man or an unmanned observatory will be required very soon on the moon.
Dr Goswami, Director, Physical Research Laboratory, also spoke detailing the findings. He said that the water molecules were detected through the signatures captured by the spectrometers.
Goswami added that the MIP had
picked up strong signals of water particles towards polar
region from 70 degree latitude to 80 degree latitudes.
The scientists, he said, had indications of the finding
"way back in June" but waited all these days to make it public
as they wanted the findings of such a global significance to
come out in a scientific journal first.
“The discovery has shattered the belief that the moon is bone dry,” he quipped.
The other key Indian scientist, who made key contributions to the study, is Mylswamy Annadurai, Project Director for Chandrayaan-I.
"Our baby has done its job," an ecstatic Annadurai told news agencies yesterday from Bangalore.
Yesterday, NASA had thanked ISRO for enabling the discovery of water on Moon through Chandrayaan-I.
“We want to thank ISRO for making the discovery possible. Moon till now was thought to be a very dry surface with lot of rocks,” NASA director Jim Green said in a press conference beamed live across the world from Washington.
The NASA photo shows the data collected by NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper on board the ISRO`s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft.